Statement from Fr. Frank Pavone: Planned Parenthood DeFunding: There is More than One Way to Do It, and It Will Happen


Priests for Life


Many people have asked me about the spending bill that was recently passed by Congress and why it does not already defund Planned Parenthood.

The commitment of our friends in Congress, and of the President, to defunding Planned Parenthood has not wavered. In fact, the House has already voted to let the states defund Planned Parenthood (as did the Senate, and the President signed it recently), and the House also voted to prevent all taxpayer funding of abortion. The President also has taken executive action to stop funding Planned Parenthood internationally.

So I am very encouraged by what has happened so far.

As for defunding Planned Parenthood domestically on the federal level, there is more than one way to do it, and the pro-life members of Congress are currently figuring out what avenue they want to use. The proposed new health care law, which they are trying to re-introduce as soon as possible, provides for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, and they are not backing away from that. There can also be standalone bills that simply defund Planned Parenthood independently of considerations about funding other aspects of the government or legislating on health care overall.

The point to be kept in mind here -- and it is a technical procedural point about which most people will be unaware -- is that the members of Congress have a limited window of opportunity right now to utilize a procedure, called "reconciliation," by which they can get a measure passed both in the House and the Senate by a simple majority vote. This bypasses the filibuster, which Senate Democrats can use to block Republican efforts, and which takes 60 votes to overcome -- votes the Republicans do not have.

Because the spending bill that was just passed was not done under the "reconciliation" process, the members of Congress knew that they did not have the votes in the Senate to defund Planned Parenthood through this particular bill.

But again, the bill does not stand in a vacuum. It's not like this bill was the one and only way that Congress could defund Planned Parenthood, and that this vote was a test of whether they are committed to do it.

There are other ways, and the pro-life members of Congress are committed to using them.

It's just a matter now of gathering enough votes and utilizing the right process ("reconciliation") to get the job done.

If no agreement can be reached on the health care bill, the House must -- and will -- find an alternate way to defund Planned Parenthood -- a goal that enjoys a majority of support among Members.

What is key in all this is the attitude we take as citizens. We are not supposed to sit back and watch to see if our elected officials keep to their commitments and promises, and then complain if they don't. The pro-life commitments are shared by them and by us. We as citizens are called to work side by side with our elected officials, appreciating the complexities of the legislative process and supporting those lawmakers in every way we can. We are all in this together. We fail or succeed together.

And on this we will succeed. I ask all citizens to contact their Representative in the House and their two US Senators and urge them to act as swiftly as possible to defund Planned Parenthood. Sign up for our action alerts at for instructions on how to do so.